Live updates: Honda to cut 800 jobs in Swindon
9:35am Friday 11th January 2013 in News
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Some of the plant's workers have shared their concern about the situation.
General associate Malcolm Hanley, who started working for Honda in 2007, said: "I'm gutted, it's my work and I don't know what I'm going to do. If I'm getting fired, where am I going to go? What am I going to do?
"I found out last night, about midnight. Everyone just went pale. Everyone thought it was all right, but that's the way it goes."
Colin Brain, who works at the engine site as a floating operator, said the announcement had come as a big surprise, particularly because it was not long ago that the company announced a new multimillion-pound investment programme.
"We heard last night, because we were on shift," he said.
"It was a bit of a shock. We don't really know what is going on at the moment, it's not really sunk in. We're going to try and do as best we can now, and hopefully get more questions answered today."
Mr Brain, who has worked for Honda for 15 years, added: "It seems like one minute they're your best friend and the next minute they don't like you very much. It's very strange, and they don't seem to tell you much until the very end, and it's been like that for the last three or four years now."
Phil Beckett has worked at the plant for 23 years and said the associates were still waiting for more information about the cuts.
"It's hard to describe at the moment because all they've said is there are going to be redundancies. They haven't said what, or where or how,"
"They've given some figures, but not the as and when, who, where or what.
"It was stunning (when they made the announcement), to be honest, I was a bit shocked. We know the climate is not very good at the moment, but it did come as a surprise, really."
Stephen Cox, a team leader on block line, said: "I think for some people it was shocking, but a lot of people had expected it with the way the market was going in Europe.
"Everyone had got on a high (in September). We thought we were going to be here forever, but you can't control what happens in Europe and the market, it's just one of those things that happens.
"We've been through it once, a couple years ago when the recession hit the first time, so hopefully we can push through it again."
From Honda decision to cut 25% Swindon jobs, seems EU membership no guarantee of FDI jobs after all, contrary to what pro-EU shills allege— @A_Liberty_Rebel 11 January 2013
Lots of tweets suggesting Honda job losses down to Government.Toyota,Nissan,Mini,JLR all hiring.Might be a Honda issue. #freemarkets— @DarrenRJones 11 January 2013
Is it me, is it hard to understand the global car market? UK sales up, yet Europe's unsold cars are stacking up, so jobs going in Swindon.— @theMOTAngel 11 January 2013
@swindonadver knew this was gonna happen since before Xmas!— @caughtbehind 11 January 2013
Robert Buckland, MP for Swindon South, said: “I heard late yesterday that an announcement was likely this morning.
“I heard the news and it is devastating news, there is no two ways about it.
“I have already spoken to senior management at Honda and the manager at the Swindon Job Centre about the situation.
“We do not know fully who will be affected by these redundancies but what I want to make sure is that Honda are working with the Job Centre, so that the people affected will get the best support during what will be a difficult and traumatic time for their families.”
Paul Everitt, Chief Executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said: “This is very disappointing news for Honda staff and their families.
“The decline in European new car markets and uncertain growth prospects has forced a number of vehicle manufacturers to restructure their operations.
“Despite challenges brought by weak European demand, the longer-term prospects for the UK automotive sector remain good.
“The industry has seen £6bn of new investment from a wide-range of global vehicle manufacturers during the last two years and there is demand for skilled workers in the automotive industry and other high value manufacturing sectors.
“We hope that those affected will be able to take advantage of the opportunities we know exist throughout the UK sector and its supply chain.”
Honda have been badly hit on the manufacturing front because 90 per cent of their production goes to Europe while Toyota and Nissan, who also manufacture in the UK, serve markets further afield.
Love it how Honda job loss story is being spun as "all Europe's fault since they are not buying enough cars". Let's withdraw from EU then.— @IanWatoop 11 January 2013
Justin Tomlinson, MP for Swindon North, said: “It is extremely disappointing news.
“It has been challenging times for Honda, and it appears the sales into Europe have fallen off a cliff edge.
“This comes as a blow to the good news only in April last year when they took on the 500 new staff.
“I will be working with Honda and other organisations to help these people who will find themselves out of a job.
“I have spoken to Honda and they have assured me their long term commitment to Swindon.”
A Department for Business, Innovation and Skills spokesperson said: “This will be a bitter blow to the workforce and the local area and we will be working with local partners to minimise the impact of the job losses.
"Times are tough in the European market, but the automotive industry remains a major success story for the UK.
"Over the last two years global manufacturers including Nissan, JLR and BMW have invested £6bn in the UK safeguarding and creating new jobs.”
Heydar Faramarzi, chairman of the Swindon Chamber of Commerce, said: “I heard the news very early this morning, I didn’t even hear rumours about it, so it came as a big shock.
“It is really bad news, not only from the economy perspective but also from the community perspective.
“It is going to be very hard for these people and from a Chamber of Commerce point of view we will do all we can to help whether they need consultation, or need help setting up their own business, we will do what we can to assist them.”
@swindonadver Was there for 20 years til 2009 & took early retirement. Were over 5000 jobs then. Cars a bit pricey in a slump even if good.— @STFC1961 11 January 2013
Mark Dempsey, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for North Swindon, said: "The terrible news of job losses at Honda is a devastating blow for Swindon; and the 800 workers and families that will be affected.
"The job losses will affect the whole of our town. Most people who live in Swindon including myself have friends or family that work at Honda, and so will feel the impact of these job losses themselves.
"This is also a devastating blow to our local economy in Swindon. We need real change and a clear plan for growth to rebuild Swindon’s economy, support major employers including Honda, and attract the new jobs and businesses our town needs."
Mr D'Avila said the union would be negotiating with Honda to try and ensure that those who left the company did so on a voluntary basis.
"What we say is if there have to be job cuts then what we want is for those who have to leave Honda to do so with a smile on their face and some money in their pocket."
Jim D'Avila, Unite’s regional organiser, said it was a 'bodyblow' for workers in Swindon
"It is a bleak day for Swindon and also for UK manufacturing.
"It's a real bodyblow and despite experts saying they are not surprised, it will hurt very badly thousands of people across Swindon"
He said that while 800 Associate positions will be cut, there are also more than 300 agency staff jobs which will also go.
Unite, Britain's biggest union, has called Honda's decision to cut 800 jobs at its Swindon plant a 'hammer blow' to UK manufacturing and the local economy.
In reality, Honda will cut more than 1,100 jobs, as the company recently announced 325 job cuts to temporary workers at the Swindon site.
Unite has vowed to oppose any compulsory redundancies and has demanded that Honda negotiates with the union to minimise the impact of the cuts and to save jobs at the site.
The union is attending meetings with the company today and was briefed on the job losses only yesterday.
The company said it was cutting 420 managers and supervisors, and 360 production workers, but the announcement comes on top of cuts to 325 agency worker jobs.
Unite national officer Tony Murphy said: "This is a hammer blow to UK manufacturing and to Swindon where Honda is a major employer. The reality is that over 1,000 jobs are going at Honda - it’s a disaster for manufacturing in the UK and for the local economy . It's a tragedy for our members and their families. There's no doubt these cuts will have a significant knock-on impact on the supply chain, and on local shops and services .That is why we intend to save as many jobs as possible.
"Unite will oppose any compulsory job losses. We expect Honda to negotiate meaningfully with the union in order to mitigate the impact of these cuts. Unite will be meeting with our local union reps in the coming days to discuss the company's proposals."
Honda has blamed the cuts on a slow down in demand from the European mainland but Honda's sales in the UK remain strong.
A Honda employee, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “It is terrible, this is not a decision that you come up with over night and we were kept in the dark.
“We were called into a meeting at 12.45am and in ten minutes they told us what was happening.
“To be told in just ten minutes it was terrible and the morale is very low, it is just unbelievable.”
trawling through archive of honda in swindon brings back memories - despite today's job losses, mostly great success— @BobConstantine 11 January 2013
RT @thomasmoore88: Plant Two at Honda in Swindon will return to a single shift, just half a year after moving to a two shift operation. http://t.co/JNfpNpEr— @TheManufacturer 11 January 2013
RT @thomasmoore88: Most of the Honda job losses will come in Plant Two, which makes the Honda Civic and Honda Jazz models. http://t.co/JNfpNpEr— @TheManufacturer 11 January 2013
@swindonadver another nail in the coffin for Swindon.— @Danjohnh 11 January 2013
@swindonadver This is very concerning for the community and our local economy and the individuals who will lose their jobs.— @HR_Philosophy 11 January 2013
Ken Keir, executive vice president of Honda Motor Europe, said today was the worst day of his working life, having to make 800 people redundant.
But he did give some positive news for Swindon.
He said: “Honda remains fully committed for the long term to its UK and European manufacturing operations.
“However these conditions of sustained low industry demand require us to take difficult decisions.
“We are setting the business constitution at the right level to ensure long term stability and security.”
800 jobs cut at Swindon Honda. A sad day.. European demand isn't anywhere near recovery yet— @TomWitherow 11 January 2013
Council leader Rod Bluh, has issued the following statement.
“Honda is one of our biggest and most valued employers in Swindon so we are naturally disappointed the company has had to take this difficult decision.
“This announcement will affect many people and families throughout Swindon and we will be working with Honda, and our partners, to provide as much support as possible to those employees who are affected by these job losses.”
Honda is to slash its workforce by 25 per cent in Swindon and as a result 800 people will be losing their jobs at the factory at South Marston. At the moment there are more than 3,500 people employed there.
The company, which provides vehicles solely for the European market, has been hit by low demand in Greece, Spain and Italy and Honda has had difficulty in selling their vehicles on mainland Europe. Ironically the UK market is buoyant and sales are doing well for Honda and other manufacturers.
Honda is now entering formal consultation with its workforce and the 800 redundancies will come from right across the board from the production line to the offices.
The workforce will be reduced by the end of April.
The 800 redundancies come less than a year after Honda recruited 500 new jobs to help build their two new cars in Swindon - the refreshed Civics and 4x4 CR-Vs. Added to that they are building a new diesel engine for their fleet of models.
But Honda says even though it is losing a quarter of its workforce it will continue building cars in Swindon for the forseeable future.
“While this is not good news for the company at the moment the decision to cut the workforce is to ensure the long term stability of its future business,” said Sam Tipper, speaking on behalf of Honda.
“Last year we celebrated 25 years in Swindon and I feel sure we will still be here in Swindon for the next 25 years.
“To date Honda has invested more than £2bn in the Swindon operation and only last September £267 was spent on modernisation of the plant here.”
To help them with their redundancies Honda will be working alongside the union Unite.
The factory will revert to two single shifts for production purposes. The number of cars to be built at the end of this financial year in March will be 165,000. Next year that figure will be reduced to 150,000.
Honda will be building a new Civic station wagon later in the year and the sporty Civic Type R probably in 2015.